The 1860s was the ten-year period from the years 1860 to 1869.
The abolition of slavery in America led to the breakdown of the Atlantic Slave Trade, which was already suffering from the abolition of slavery in most of Europe in the late 1820s and ’30s. In United States, civil war between the Confederacy of the South and the Northern states led to massive deaths and the destruction of cities such as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Richmond, Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia. Sherman's March to the Sea was one of the first times America experienced total war, and advancements in military technology, such as iron and steel warships, and the development and initial deployment of early machine guns added to the destruction. After the Civil War, turmoil continued in Reconstruction, with the rise of white supremacist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the issue of granting Civil Rights to freed blacks.
Politics and wars
- French occupation of Mexico (1863–1867). Replacement of President of Mexico Benito Juárez (1861–1863) at first with Juan Nepomuceno Almonte (1863–1864) and then by Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (1864–1867) with the establishment of the Second Mexican Empire. Juárez eventually manages to recover his position (1867–1872).
- On 18 October 1860, the first Convention of Peking formally ended the Second Opium War.
- The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865.
- The Paraguayan War (1864–1870) starts in South America, with the invasion of Paraguay by the Triple Alliance (Empire of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay). It will kill almost 60% of the country’s population.
- The main phase of the New Zealand Wars between British colonials and the Māori population begins with the First Taranaki War in 1860. The most significant campaign is the Invasion of Waikato in 1863, which sees some 14,000 British and colonial troops engaged.
- The Kingdom of Prussia under Bismarck invaded Denmark in 1864, which ended in the division of Schleswig, the location of a pro-German revolt, between Prussia and the Austrian Empire. Though Prussia and Austria had both fought side by side in this war, Prussia later attacked Austria in the Austro-Prussian war of 1866. The technological and logistical superiority of Prussia's armed forces obliterated Austria and its allies, the former also having to deal with Prussia's ally Italy in Venice. By the end of these conflicts, Prussia was seen as the most powerful state in Germany, and had total hegemony over the other German states. The NGF was formed after the Austro-Prussian war, uniting the states of north Germany, and Prussia soon led it into another conflict with France.
- The Bhutan War between the British Empire and Bhutan lasted from 1864 to 1865. It ended in a British victory and the loss of some Bhutanese territory to British India.
Prominent political events
Science and technology
- The First Transcontinental Railroad in the USA is completed in 1869.
- The Suez Canal in Egypt is opened in 1869.
- The Plongeur, the first mechanically powered submarine in the world, is launched in 1863 after three years of construction.
- Carl Wilhelm Borchardt discovers and proves Cayley's formula in graph theory in 1860.
- The first transatlantic telegraph cable is successfully laid in 1866, enabling almost instant communication between America and Europe.
- Alfred Nobel invents dynamite in Sweden, patenting it in 1867.
- James Clerk Maxwell publishes his equations that quantify the relationship between electricity and magnetism, and shows that light is a form of electromagnetic radiation
- Joseph Lister develops antiseptic methods for use in surgery in 1867, introducing carbolic acid as an antiseptic, turning it into the first widely used surgical antiseptic in surgery, and publishing Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery. As a result, deaths from infections due to surgery greatly decrease.
- Gregor Mendel formulates Mendel’s laws of inheritance, the basis for genetics, in a two-part paper written in 1865 and published in 1866, although it is largely ignored until 1900.
- Dmitri Mendeleev develops the modern periodic table
- Helium was first detected during the total solar eclipse of August 18, 1868, in parts of India. It was the first eclipse expedition in which a spectroscope was used.
- J. Norman Lockyer and Pierre Janssen are honored for their discovery of the nature of the Sun’s prominences. They were the first to notice bright spectral emission lines when viewing the limb of the Sun without the aid of a total solar eclipse.
- 1862 International Exhibition in London, England and 1867 International Exposition in Paris.
Literature and arts
- The Victorian era and its culture largely thrived from 1860 until 1901.
- The culture of the Victorian era comes to America and remains in place until around the turn of the 20th century, where the year it ends is disputed as to whether it ended with the rise of progressivism in 1896 or with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
Famous and infamous personalities
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events: 1861 (1864) online
- Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. i.
- Appletons' annual cyclopedia and register of important events: Embracing political, military, and ecclesiastical affairs; public documents; biography, statistics, commerce, finance, literature, science, agriculture, and mechanical industry, Volume 3 1863 (1864), thorough coverage of the events of 1863
- The American Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1867
- American Annual Cyclopedia ... 1868 (1869), online
- American Annual Cyclopedia ... for 1869 (1870) online edition
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